Places & Spaces: Libraries & Centers: Special Collections and University Archives: Rare Books:

Rare Books Collection Development Statement

At present, Rutgers University Libraries have not identified specific subject areas, languages or formats in which they formally and aggressively collect rare materials, with the exception of materials collected in the Rare Books division of Special Collections and University Archives. This division manages a modest rare book fund from which it captures some quality items that come on the market and complement its collection. (See: Addendum A). In addition, some other collections may periodically be enriched by subsequent rare purchases and/or gifts. Rare materials are typically bought by individual selectors and are then considered for inclusion into a rare book collection or rare book area upon acquisition. Generally speaking, gifts and purchases become candidates for rare books treatment according to the following criteria:

  1. DATE: Date of imprint reflects the latest date of early printing for a particular geographical location: through 1600 for continental Europe, 1640 in Great Britain, and 1700 in Latin America. Because the spread of printing in the Unites States occurred over a long period of time, dates will differ from region to region, and state to state. All American imprints should be given rare book treatment if printed through 1820; books published in the midwest may be considered as candidates for rare book treatment if printed before 1860. Similarly books printed in the northwest before 1875 may be considered candidates for rare book treatment, as should books printed in the southwest before 1875. Because of Rutgers nationally recognized commitment to Jerseyana, books printed in New Jersey before 1850 should be given rare book treatment. (See: Addendum B) for a more detailed examination of the date parameters of early printing.
  1. COST: Materials costing or valued at more than $500 per volume.
  1. EDITION: Limited editions of 500 copies or fewer. First appearance in book form of collected literary writers and seminal critical studies.
  1. UNUSUAL FORMATS: manuscripts, broadsides, miniature books, etc.
  1. ARTIFACTUAL ELEMENTS: Items containing historically significant, scarce or valuable bindings or wrappers: either unique, copy specific bindings or early and significant edition bindings. Items with detachable illustrations, such as are subject to potential theft or illustrations of limited quantity or obvious artistic worth (eg. prints by collectible artists). Items containing original or noteworthy typography--in the broadest sense, to mean both typeface and design. Items printed on unusual, noteworthy, or valuable sprinting surfaces (i.e. vellum, fabric, costly hand-made paper).
  1. ASSOCIATION COPIES: Items from the libraries of notable writers, artists, printers, publishers, collectors, scholars or notable historical figures and items containing significant genealogical information.
  1. INSCRIPTIONS: Items signed by the author.

    While these materials should be considered rare, they need not be permanently housed in special areas. If, however, it is determined that a text is indeed rare, then the appropriate storage, maintenance, and security variables should be addressed and non-circulating status attached. Since many of these items are reported as rare for reasons other than their subject significance, anomalous descriptive techniques may prove requisite.

Final report of the Rare Books Collection Development Policy Statement subcommittee.

May 14, 1993
Ronald Becker
Joseph P. Consoli (chair)
Michael Joseph
Patricia Piermatti
Charlene Shults Edited 1996-09-09